Review: Queen Marie (Alumnae Theatre)

Ambitious Queen Marie plays at the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto

Playing at the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto’s Distillery District, Queen Marie is an engaging musical tribute to “great big girl” Marie Dressler. Dressler, whom I knew nothing of previously even though she won an Academy Award and acted with Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin, was an Ontario-born comic actor whose theatrical career spanned decades, right into the first “talkies”. Continue reading Review: Queen Marie (Alumnae Theatre)

Review: Tell Me What It’s Called and Mr. Truth (Tell Me Theatre, Lester Trips (Theatre), Why Not Theatre)

Two challenging, unconventional works currently playing on the Toronto stage

Tell Me What It’s Called and Mr. Truth are the latest examples of the quality independent theatre that the RISER Project has built its reputation on supporting. They are also the latest reasons why The Theatre Centre remains a leading space for risk-taking on stage.

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Review: Where There’s A Will (Sawitri Theatre)

Where There’s A Will comes to the Alumnae in Toronto

Sawitri Theatre‘s Where There’s A Will, currently playing at the Alumnae Theatre, is a wildly clever two-act comedy penned by renowned Indian playwright Mahesh Dattani. The play shines a light on the lives of a dysfunctional middle-class Indian family as they verbally duke out their deep-seated inter-familial qualms.

Continue reading Review: Where There’s A Will (Sawitri Theatre)

Review: The Return of Ulysses (Opera Atelier)

First performed in 1639, The Return of Ulysses by Claudio Monteverdi is currently being produced by Opera Atelier. It is one of the earliest operas you are likely to see performed on a 21st century stage. The timelessness of this universally-known story likely has something to do with the work’s ongoing popularity. It’s based on the second half of Homer’s Odyssey, wherein Ulysses (Odysseus), the King of Ithaca, returns home to his faithful wife Penelope. In order to reclaim his kingdom and his wife, he must fight off three evil suitors with a little help and hindrance from the gods. The Opera Atelier production is beautifully rendered and, as usual, a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. Continue reading Review: The Return of Ulysses (Opera Atelier)

Review: I And You (Outlook Theatre)

I and You is “powerful”, “gut-wrenching”, “beautiful”, on stage at the Tarragon in Toronto

Lauren Gunderson’s I and You, an Outlook Theatre production now playing at the Tarragon Extraspace, falls squarely into the teen “sick-lit” genre of books like The Fault In Our Stars, where chronically, seriously ill high schoolers are humanized and given a chance to speak, explore life and death, and even find love.

Gunderson was the most-produced playwright in America (save Shakespeare) by far this past year, and it’s clear why. Her play is witty and self-aware; it’s charming, well-constructed and features nuanced, likable characters that challenge our assumptions and stereotypes about both teenagers and the chronically ill. It feels very safe and comforting, with enough theatrical flourish to bely that safety and not seem generic.

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Review: Fun Home (Mirvish/The Musical Stage Co.)

Mirvish brings the Tony Award winning new musical Fun Home to Toronto audiences

Fun Home, currently playing at the CAA Theatre, is one of those musicals that defies easy description. It’s so full of contradictions. At once funny and heartbreaking, uplifting and tragic, elegant and chaotic, it nevertheless balances all of these elements with expert precision and utter commitment to all of the messy, complex layers of its central plot: a lesbian cartoonist attempts to draw a true, authentic portrayal of her gay father, and in doing so must confront the fact that he killed himself a mere four months after she came out to her family.

Simply put, Fun Home feels like something new and innovative in the musical theatre world, and has since it originally opened on Broadway. This Canadian production absolutely upholds the reputation of the multi-award winning show (which includes the 2015 Tony for Best Musical). Continue reading Review: Fun Home (Mirvish/The Musical Stage Co.)

Review: The Nightingale and Other Fables (Canadian Opera Company)

Opera blends with puppetry in a breathtaking performance captivating Toronto audiences

The Nightingale and Other Fables (Canadian Opera Company) is a hauntingly beautiful production that innovatively weaves several short works by Igor Stravinsky into an integrated dramatic presentation. It is comprised of song cycles, short stories and instrumental pieces that are dramatized through puppetry, culminating in Stravinsky’s charming opera The Nightingale. Crafted by celebrated Canadian stage director Robert Lepage, The Nightingale and Other Short Fables is rapidly becoming part of the 21st Century operatic canon internationally. Continue reading Review: The Nightingale and Other Fables (Canadian Opera Company)